More used to making protective gear for camera lenses, New Jersey-based LensCoat has turned its attention to making protective masks for health workers during the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States. The company has given over 50% of its production capacity to making the masks for its local hospital in Freehold, NJ.

LensCoat owner and nature photographer Scott Elowitz told DP Review that he responded to an appeal by the New York governor for companies to make Personal Protection Equipment but was told the governor was really looking for those who already had federal certification.

Scott says he was driven by a personal story in which one of his Freehold neighbor’s family had been ravaged by CV19 which lead to seven members being hospitalized and four dying.

‘I was a little dejected that we couldn’t make certified equipment but continued to look for ways to help’ he tells DPReview. ‘Then one of my staff alerted me that the Freehold Township Residents Community group was putting together a group of at-home sewers to make masks for our CentraState hospital and local first responders.’ Scott contacted the group to offer the company’s sewing skills and capacity and soon began making the masks.

Lenscoat's usual product line is camo covers for lenses, cameras and photographers

LensCoat has a large stock of camouflaged material that it uses for its usual products and used this to make some very cool-looking masks. ‘We are a Realtree licensee (Realtree is the world’s leading camouflage designer). They heard about what we were doing and contacted us to also donate fabric to our local cause.’

Scott explains that the masks are not FDA surgical grade, so they are used over N95 and surgical masks as well as given to others in the hospital so that the hospital can use their limited resources more efficiently. ‘And I feel good about finding a way to help out our local community. We are all in this together. We have to do what we can to help even if it’s just staying home and not becoming a victim or part of the problem. The sooner we get this under control the sooner we will be able to get back to a sense of normalcy.’

For more information on the company see the LensCoat website.